US Commerce’s Ross to visit China for trade talks in early June

US Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross gestures as he leaves after addressing delegates at the annual Confederation of British Industry (CBI) conference in east London, on November 6, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 25 May 2018
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US Commerce’s Ross to visit China for trade talks in early June

  • China's Vice Premier Liu He has spoken with Ross over the phone, according to state media
  • President Trump this week floated tariffs on foreign car imports

BEIJING: US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will visit China early next month for another round of talks amid ongoing trade frictions between the world’s two largest economies.
Ross will visit China from June 2 to June 4, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Friday, adding that Vice Premier Liu He, China’s chief negotiator in the trade dispute, had spoken with Ross over the phone. It gave no further details.
The trade dispute took on added complexity this week when US President Donald Trump announced a national security investigation into imports of cars and trucks, a probe that could lead to tariffs against China as well as key US allies such as Canada, Mexico, Japan and Germany.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC on Monday that Ross is aiming to negotiate “a framework” that could then turn into “binding agreements ... between companies.”
In the last round of talks in Washington in mid-May, China agreed to ramp up purchases of US agriculture and energy products, and the two sides worked toward a possible reprieve for ZTE Corp. from a US ban on American companies supplying the Chinese maker of telecoms equipment.
The developments and constructive comments from both sides eased fears that the United States and China could plunge into a trade war, but President Donald Trump said this week that any deal would need “a different structure,” fueling uncertainty over the negotiations.
Trump has threatened to impose tariffs on up to $150 billion of Chinese goods to combat what he says is Beijing’s misappropriation of US technology through joint venture requirements and other policies.
Beijing has threatened equal retaliation, including tariffs on some of its largest US imports, including aircraft, soybeans and autos.


OPEC oil ministers gather to discuss production increase

Updated 19 June 2018
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OPEC oil ministers gather to discuss production increase

  • Analysts expect the group to discuss an increase in production of about 1 million barrels a day
  • The officials were arriving in Vienna ahead of the official meeting Friday

VIENNA: The oil ministers of the OPEC cartel were gathering Tuesday to discuss this week whether to increase production of crude and help limit a rise in global energy prices.
The officials were arriving in Vienna ahead of the official meeting Friday, when they will also confer with Russia, a non-OPEC country that since late 2016 has cooperated with the cartel to limit production.
Analysts expect the group to discuss an increase in production of about 1 million barrels a day, ending the output cut agreed on in 2016.
The cut has since then pushed up the price of crude oil by about 50 percent. The US benchmark in May hit its highest level in three and half years, at $72.35 a barrel.
Upon arriving, the energy minister of the United Arab Emirates, Suhail Al Mazrouei, said: “It’s going to be hopefully a good meeting. We look forward to having this gathering with OPEC and non-OPEC.”
The 14 countries in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries make more money with higher prices, but are mindful of the fact that more expensive crude can encourage a shift to renewable resources and hurt demand.
“Consumers as well as businesses will be hoping that this week’s OPEC meeting succeeds in keeping a lid on prices, and in so doing calling a halt to a period which has seen a steady rise in fuel costs,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK
The rise in the cost of oil has been a key factor in driving up consumer price inflation in major economies like the US and Europe in recent months.
Already US President Donald Trump has called on OPEC to cut production, tweeting in April and again this month that “OPEC is at it again” by allowing oil prices to rise.
Within OPEC, an increase in output will not affect all countries equally. While Saudi Arabia, the cartel’s biggest producer, is seen to be open to a rise in production, other countries cannot afford to do so. Those include Iran and Venezuela, whose industries are stymied either by international sanctions or domestic turmoil. Iran is a fierce regional rival to Saudi Arabia, meaning the OPEC deal could also influence the geopolitics in the Middle East.